CATO OP-EDS

Eric Gomez After an extended period of silence since the failure of the U.S.-North Korea summit in Hanoi, a flurry of activity and statements by North Korea’s leadership has clarified their post-summit game plan. A major speech by Kim Jong Un to the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), a rhetorical fusillade against U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo by North Korea’s ministry of foreign affairs, and an upcoming summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin were especially important developments. These three actions show that Kim is still open to diplomacy with the United States, but he will pressure President Trump to change U.S. demands while simultaneously hedging his bets and preparing for an outcome where Trump doesn’t lift sanctions. Kim’s silence after the Hanoi summit led to a period of uncertainty and speculation. Choe Son Hui, a high-ranking North Korean foreign ministry official, was vocal after the summit and warned that Kim might reverse a moratorium on long-range missile and nuclear weapons testing. Choe’s comments coincided with signs of activity at a North Korean satellite launch facility, but there was no rocket launch and Kim did not personally reveal his calculations. Kim’s address to the SPA is the first time he has publicly laid out his assessment of the Hanoi summit’s collapse and his view of the path forward. In the speech, Kim said that [...]
Fri, Apr 19, 2019
Source: OP-EDS
Patrick G. Eddington The release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, along with allegations of obstruction of justice by the president, has (seemingly) answered some questions but only generated still others. That the president was enraged that Mueller had been appointed comes as no surprise. What he did in response evokes memories of Richard Nixon and Watergate. According to the report (p. 77), Trump viewed Mueller’s appointment as the “end of his presidency and that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had failed to protect him and should resign.” Sessions submitted, but Trump ultimately did not accept, his resignation. Trump then apparently borrowed from Nixon’s playbook, reportedly asking White House counsel Don McGahn to “have the Special Counsel removed because of asserted conflicts of interest.” McGahn did not carry out the instruction for fear of being seen as triggering another Saturday Night Massacre and instead prepared to resign. McGahn ultimately did not quit and the president did not follow up with McGahn on his request to have the Special Counsel removed.” (p. 78) What’s also clear to me from reading the report is that Mueller and his team apparently considered, but ultimately decided not, to go after Trump for obstruction of justice. In the section dealing with the yearlong negotiations with the White House over getting the president [...]
Fri, Apr 19, 2019
Source: OP-EDS
Sign up for Cato Institute's daily email: Cato Today.
Ilya Shapiro Don McGahn is one of the few people who came out looking better after the Robert Mueller report than going in. The former White House counsel, who stepped down in October, saved President Donald Trump from his worst instincts, displaying a legal savvy and high ethical standard that served both the president and the country well. Indeed, by preventing Trump from firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller, McGahn prevented a political crisis—not to be confused with a constitutional one—that would’ve made the Russia-collusion narrative seem like a jaywalking allegation. When you add that to his execution of a laser-focused strategy on judicial nominations—including two Supreme Court justices and a record number of circuit judges—McGahn is the early leader for MVP of the Trump administration. (Full disclosure: I worked with McGahn at Patton Boggs more than a decade ago, and we have remained on friendly terms.) Mueller’s report concluded that McGahn was a “credible witness with no motive to lie.” From the 30 hours the White House lawyer spent talking to the special counsel and his team, we learn many of the some of the most portentous developments of the seemingly interminable investigation. CATO TODAY NEWSLETTER Get your daily shot of liberty delivered straight to your inbox. Cato Today includes daily events and commentary on the news that is driving the day. Almost immediately after Deputy [...]
Fri, Apr 19, 2019
Source: OP-EDS
Ilya Shapiro One of the biggest heroes of the Mueller report is Don McGahn, who served as White House counsel from President Donald Trump’s inauguration through October 2018. McGahn sat for 30 hours of interviews with special counsel Robert Mueller. And, in the report, Mueller described him as a “credible witness with no motive to lie.” The report reveals that soon after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed the special counsel, Trump tried to get McGahn to remove Mueller. McGahn repeatedly declined — and, in May 2017, he warned this action would appear as an attempt to “meddle in the investigation.” When Trump called McGahn in June to prod him again to remove Mueller, the White House counsel was at his wits’ end. “McGahn did not carry out the direction,” details the report, “deciding that he would resign rather than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre.” Later, when Trump asked McGahn why he had told Mueller about the order to have him fired, McGahn explained that “he had to” because their conversations weren’t protected by attorney-client privilege. This latter point is important because McGahn stood up for the idea that the White House counsel’s loyalty is to the Office of the President, not to the President himself. Trump seemed satisfied by that explanation, but then asked, “What about those [...]
Fri, Apr 19, 2019
Source: OP-EDS
Doug Bandow President Donald Trump went dancing with the Saudi royals in Riyadh, where he tried to sell America’s principles in exchange for a mess of weapons contracts. Since then, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has become Saudi Arabia’s lead PR counsel in America. The Pentagon is the Saudi regime’s premier armorer. Now Energy Secretary Rick Perry is acting as chief nuclear procurer for the Saudis. “By ramming through the sale of as much as $80 billion in nuclear power plants,” The New York Times warned recently, “the Trump administration would provide sensitive knowhow and materials to a government whose de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has suggested that he may eventually want a nuclear weapon as a hedge against Iran and has shown little concern for what the rest of the world thinks.” Obviously, Trump has not endorsed a Saudi nuclear weapon. However, his administration’s ongoing attempt to provide the Kingdom with nuclear technology raises serious questions about U.S. policy. The crown prince can’t be trusted with a bone saw, let alone nuclear weapons. America’s relationship with Riyadh has long been fraught with tension, inconsistency, and hypocrisy. The faux friendship revolves around oil, the lifeblood of the Western economy. However, the fracking revolution turned the U.S. into an energy super-supplier, and other hydrocarbon sources have since emerged. And if Washington stopped routinely sanctioning other [...]
Thu, Apr 18, 2019
Source: OP-EDS
Michael D. Tanner Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has officially unveiled the latest version of his plan for a government-run health-care system. This year, his Medicare for All legislation is co-sponsored by at least five of his fellow presidential contenders: Senators Corey Booker, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Elizabeth Warren, and Representative Eric Swalwell. Several other prominent Democrats have voiced their support for the concept, if not Sanders’s specific version of it. And the polls show that voters might be receptive. What’s more, there is a genuine need for health-care reform. Obamacare remains deeply troubled, with costs rising, choices restricted, and its promise of universal coverage unrealized. Meanwhile, Republicans are divided, dispirited, and largely clueless — opposed to Obamacare, but unable to formulate a plan of their own. Medicare for All, to a large extent, has filled the vacuum created by that inability. But before we take it too seriously, there are a few questions that supporters must answer: How will you pay for it? We don’t yet know exactly how much Sanders’s plan will cost, but the price is bound to be high: Previous versions of the plan were estimated to cost $32-38 trillion over the next ten years, and the senator’s latest version would provide even more generous benefits. In fact, both the legislation and the Sanders campaign’s summary [...]
Wed, Apr 17, 2019
Source: OP-EDS
Corey A. DeAngelis, Patrick J. Wolf, Larry D. Maloney, & Jay F. May Charter schools are the object of intense national debate. They shouldn’t be. The data show that public charters are a good investment. In five studies that we’ve conducted during the past several years, we’ve compared traditional schools and charter schools in a diverse roster of U.S. cities where a substantial portion of families are choosing charters. We’ve examined how much funding each sector receives and how much learning each produces. The facts are quite clear: Charter schools do more with less. Our first report, “Charter School Funding: Inequity in the City,” identified a significant funding gap between traditional and chartered public schools. In 14 cities spanning the country, from the nation’s capital to Memphis to Los Angeles, charter schools received considerably less funding — an average of $5,721 per pupil — than traditional schools. To put it another way, families sacrificed about one third of their educational resources when they chose to enroll in charter schools. Two years later we revisited these same 14 cities and found that the funding gap between traditional and charter schools had increased slightly to an average of $5,828 per pupil. Local funding sources, including property and sales taxes, were the biggest contributors to the disparity. (A third report that focused on New York City’s charter and [...]
Wed, Apr 17, 2019
Source: OP-EDS
Jeffrey Miron and Laura Nicolae Prescription opioid manufacturers and distributors are under legal siege. Nearly 2,000 lawsuits from states, municipalities, and hospitals allege that these companies are responsible for the opioid epidemic. Purdue Pharma, which makes Oxycontin, recently settled one such lawsuit for $270 million, but most will continue, with the first trial set for May 28. These lawsuits rest on the proposition that opioid makers misled doctors, hospitals, and patients about the risk of addiction to prescription opioids, thereby generating a boom in opioid overdoses. Whether these companies broke the law is for juries to decide. But regardless of the outcome, the opioid epidemic has resulted mainly from the prohibition and regulation of prescription opioids, not excessive prescribing. Current regulations harm millions of patients with severe or chronic pain by limiting their access to opioids. During the early 1980s, doctors prescribed opioids for short-term pain and for palliative care of terminally ill cancer patients, but rarely for chronic conditions such as back pain, osteoarthritis, or fibromyalgia. In the late 1980s, however, prescribing for chronic and acute pain increased. This change reflected concerns about undertreating pain and new evidence that, under medical supervision, opioids were not unacceptably addictive or dangerous. Pharmaceutical companies embraced the new medical attitudes and scientific evidence. In doing so, they may have understated the risk of addiction from prescription opioids. Yet the [...]
Tue, Apr 16, 2019
Source: OP-EDS
Ted Galen Carpenter The American foreign policy Blob’s latest worry is that Venezuela’s radical leftist government is reaching out to the Middle East for support against growing pressure from Washington. Specifically, President Nicolás Maduro is reportedly trying to establish extensive political and financial links with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his ally in Lebanon, Hezbollah. The latter has repeatedly condemned U.S. policy towards Maduro, and already appears to have shadowy economic ties to Caracas. There are indications that Maduro’s regime may be utilizing Hezbollah to launder funds from the illegal drug trade. Washington’s fear is that lurking behind an Assad-Hezbollah-Maduro alliance is America’s arch-nemesis, Iran, which has close relations with both Assad and Hezbollah. Tehran’s apparent objective would be to strengthen the Venezuelan regime, boost anti-U.S. sentiment in the Western Hemisphere, and perhaps acquire some laundered money from a joint Maduro-Hezbollah operation to ease the pain of U.S. economic sanctions re-imposed following the Trump administration’s repudiation of the nuclear deal. Although Iran, Assad, and Hezbollah remain primarily concerned with developments in their own region, the fear that they want to undermine Washington’s power in its own backyard is not unfounded. But U.S. leaders should ask themselves why such diverse factions would coalesce behind that objective. It is hardly the only example of this to emerge in recent years, and the principal cause appears to be [...]
Mon, Apr 15, 2019
Source: OP-EDS
Doug Bandow Negotiations between the United States and North Korea appear to be on life support. President Donald Trump’s talk of another summit led the North’s Kim Jong-un to condition such a meeting on Washington’s willingness to loosen sanctions. Yet official Washington earlier greeted President Donald Trump’s explanation for cancelling another round of proposed sanctions on North Korea with guffaws. However silly it is for him to say he “likes” the North’s Kim Jong-un, the president apparently understands that diplomacy is better than war and American escalation is likely to trigger North Korean retaliation. That would be in no one’s interest. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea long has been a difficult actor. Yet over the last year there have been no violent attacks, no missile or nuclear tests, no threats of annihilation and destruction, and even few insults. That obviously is a major improvement. And it suggests the possibility of the DPRK evolving from a heavily-armed, aggressive, and threatening state to a still heavily-armed, but mostly satiated, even vaguely responsible state. Obviously, the North’s history suggests skepticism when assessing any apparent change in Pyongyang. Nevertheless, Kim appears different than his father and grandfather — no liberal, but nevertheless more interested in economic growth and diplomatic engagement. Moreover, he may have decided that the best strategy to deter an American attack is to appear nonthreatening and [...]
Mon, Apr 15, 2019
Source: OP-EDS

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.